Rottingdean Rhyme by Nils Nisse Visser
Brighton Steam Punk author Nils Nisse Visser has blown me away with his superb novella Rottingdean Rhyme, a tale of Yard Pilkin, a former clerk and poet from London. Yard feels as though he has gone back in time when he moves to Rottingdean, after a late relative leaves him a cottage. The villagers seem dubious of this stranger. Pilkin avoids leaving his cottage unless necessary, until he hears an unusual noise. Looking to the sky, he spots something out of place. Focussing on the end of his garden he comes across a young girl waving as a craft flies by. Striking up a conversation with the girl, Pilkin discovers that his late relative allowed young Alice to create her own kingdom there. Pilkin meets Alice’s father, forming an unlikely friendship, and opening his eyes to a unified secret that only the villagers knew of. Buy UK and US
Tales in Sombre Tones
Written by Sean Walter & Artwork by Karen Ruffles
I’ve had a signed copy of Tales in Sombre Tones on my shelf for a while after purchasing it through a Kickstarter campaign. I was already familiar with the work of Sean Walter as I had won a copy of his earlier collection of short stories, A Glimpse into Madness a few years ago and I was excited to see what Tales in Sombre Tones consisted of when I discovered that Karen Ruffles of Drawing in Dark was producing the artwork. The book did not disappoint.
Within the book are twenty-four varied short stories, each tackling a different subject, each uniquely atmospheric. Walter’s writing is easy to read and concise (I got through the stories over a couple of evenings). As with most collections of short stories there were a few that I liked less than others but there were none that I didn’t enjoy. The standout story for me was In an Instant, closely followed by Hunted and Mercurial.
The artwork is superb, adding to the eerie feel of the stories – from the haunting cover image to the pieces at the start of each story. I particularly liked the images at the start of Mercurial and To Spite the Living. Overall this is a wonderful book, ideal for any fans of strange and horrific short stories. Buy UK and US
THEM by James Watts
THEM is a horror novel, and the debut from this author. It tells the story of Ray Sanders, who returns home to bury his mother, but all is not as it seems in the small town as something evil lurks in the shadows, threatening all who live there. The story was incredibly well written, with scenes that were easy to envisage, and believable characters. The plot was tense, and well thought out, which kept me reading on, desperate to find out what happened next. THEM is a must read for any fan of horror stories, and James Watts is an author to watch out for. I look forward to his next book. Buy UK and US
The Willing Observer by K. L. Wicks
The Willing Observer is the second book I have read from Wicks, and both have been very different to one another. This book is unique in many ways; described as a stalker’s memoir it details the methodology and psychology of a stalker from their own perspective. Very dark, uncomfortable in places, and unsettling throughout, without the need for particularly graphic content. A very interesting read. Buy UK and US
Murmansk-13 by Richard-Steven Williams
Murmansk-13 is an impressive book, which is richly descriptive throughout. Providing a blend of science fiction and horror, Williams has written a story featuring a large, and believable, cast of characters who find themselves stranded in space, and exploring a seemingly abandoned space station. There is an air of suspense throughout the book, a sense of intrigue as the severity of the crew’s situation becomes apparent, and a genuine feeling of claustrophobia. Highly recommended. Buy UK and US
Banished by Lou Yardley
I’ve yet to find a book by Lou Yardley which I haven’t enjoyed and Banished shows that Yardley’s books just keep getting even better. Set in the village of Elkbury, the story is packed with mystery and intrigue, as well as delicious chunks of gore. There is a sense of dread throughout as the details of the secret Banishment ceremony become clear and the reader is drawn into the world of Venari. Yardley has created some fantastic characters – varied, believable, and relatable. It’s a long book but one that draws you in from the start and doesn’t let up. Buy here
Hellhound by Lou Yardley
Lou Yardley’s Hellhound is a fantastic werewolf story, with interesting and believable characters. It is written well, and fast paced, with just the right levels of mystery and gore. A great story for any horror fan, which is highly recommended. I am looking forward to checking out other work by this author, and plan to read The Forest very shortly. Buy UK and US.
The Forest by Lou Yardley
The Forest is comprised of two parts. Part One tells the story of Georgia and Oliver, aged 12 and 9 respectively, who venture into the forest at the end of their garden and get more than they bargained for. The whole atmosphere of the book was genuinely frightening, as the children come under attack firstly from the trees, and then find themselves transported to an alternate reality, in which every creature in The Forest seems to be hell-bent on destroying them. Part Two picks up the story five years later, and is both fast-paced and engaging, with a sense of dread throughout. The book is a quick read, utterly captivating, and highly recommended. Lou Yardley is a name any fan of horror fiction should be aware of, and is quickly becoming one of my personal favourite authors. Buy UK and US.
The Other’s Voice by Lou Yardley
This is the debut novel from Lou Yardley but is the third of her books that I have read. I started with the awesome Hellhound, and have also read The Forest which was equally good (reviews are below). I did not know what to expect from The Other’s Voice, as I did not read the blurb; I went on the assumption that it would be good as I was becoming familiar with the author. I was not disappointed. The story is the first in a trilogy, and was atmospheric, creepy, and disturbing from the outset. It tells the story of a family battling a demon, trapped within their home as he possesses them in turn, causing them to turn on one another. It was impossible to guess what would happen next, and I read this novel in two sittings. Buy UK and US
The Deal Maker by Lou Yardley
Having read a few books by Lou Yardley so far (Hellhound, The Other’s Voice, The Forest), I was excited to get started with The Deal Maker. Yardley has her own distinctive style, skilfully blending aspects of horror, comedy, and mystery into this fantastic book about a demon who grants wishes in exchange for body parts. Parts of the story are disturbing, parts are a bit on the gross side, and some parts will make you laugh out loud. Highly recommended to any fan of horror stories. Buy here
Slash Fiction by Lou Yardley
I had the opportunity to grab one of these limited edition, signed booklets at the Brighton and Hove Book Fayre in November and it’s a great, quick read. Slash Fiction contains five short stories, covering a range of horror sub-genres. Very entertaining and well written. Buy here
We All Scream for Ice Cream by Lou Yardley
I’ve had this novella on my bookshelf for a few months and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. We All Scream for Ice Cream is a bizarre tale, in a good way. The story is unique, blending believable characters with a very unusual situation, all told in Yardley’s distinctive writing style. A lot of fun and highly recommended. Buy UK and US
Darkened Wings Flutter by Lou Yardley
Yardley is one of the few authors whose books I will grab as soon as they come out, confident that it will be a great read. Darkened Wings Flutter is no exception. Fast-paced and filled with twists and turns, Yardley’s latest book is packed full of suspense and intrigue, blending what seems like normal day-to-day life with the shocking and plain bizarre.
Something strange is going on in Crow’s Foot Hollow. A missing boy, a worried teacher, a mysterious forest, a seemingly normal family with secrets of their own, and their elderly neighbour, Chuck, all find their lives intertwined in a tale of true horror. Combining mystery and horror, and adding buckets of gore, Yardley has created a clever tale which is sure to satisfy the tastes of any horror reader. Buy here